Last year, super soph LB Luke Kuechly found himself on the short list for the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy. And while he didn't come away with the hardware -- which went instead to Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers -- it was pretty much assumed that Kuechly would return to the award's preseason watch list going into his junior season.
The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club made it official on Friday, naming Kuechly as one of the 87 best defensive players in the nation.
Through two seasons, Kuechly has amassed an incredible 341 tackles in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. We all know how awesome it is to watch #40 on the field, so let's let an impartial third party explain:
"There is not enough space for me spout all the superlatives I have saved up for junior middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, so let's just leave it with this: he's more than worth the price of admission. And if that's not strong enough, how about this: he's a top-three linebacker in college football, if not the best altogether. Kuechly is a middle linebacker straight from central casting, a big, tall, tough, nasty, rough, gritty, unstoppable tackling machine - 183 of them a year ago, most in the F.B.S., after ranking second in the nation in that category as a freshman. There are some holes to fill up front, but as long as Kuechly is in the middle, B.C. won't struggle against the run. He's the best player previewed thus far on the Countdown."
You have to think Kuechly has to be considered one of the favorites to make the Nagurski Award short list this year. Of last year's five finalists from last season, he's the only player still in school. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 17.